(click on pictures to enlarge)
My foot has healed well I think, since I walked 60 km in 4 days this past week. Two more friends from Dublin came on a visit and the first day, we somehow covered 15 km just wandering the streets of Rome from St. Peter’s basilica to the Pantheon and all around that area. Temperatures in Rome are around 35C at the moment so walking about in the heat is not for cissies! However, after the cool weather in Dublin, my friends were happy to soak up the sun.
Two weeks ago, I discovered that my Canadian driver’s licence is not technically valid here and I had omitted to get an international one before I arrived. Not a big deal as with my foot being compromised, I coudn’t drive until very recently anyway. EU licences, on the other hand, are valid so Rory offered to brave the roads so that we could do a couple of day trips. We drove to Ostia Antica which I had visited before with Loris but not seen in its entirety. We started with a fine lunch by the ocean in Ostia followed by a walk along the beach. By the time we got to Ostia Antica, it had cooled down enough to enjoy the site. As on a previous visit, there weren’t a lot of people and it was a pleasure walking around. I missed this Roman latrine the first time. The aqueducts provided continuous running water in a trench in the floor under the seat creating a sort of permanent flushing system. Those Romans really knew about engineering. Some reports state that there is evidence of sticks with sponges attached which would be used to wash the nether regions and which accounts for the holes in front.
Another day, we drove to Frascati where Loris had taken me for a birthday lunch a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the Aldobrandini palazzo which dominates the town is not open to visitors. We drove up the mountain to the top and came upon the Parco Archaeologico di Tuscolo which was an ancient Roman site and which is currently being excavated. The ground was parched and dry but the view from the top of the mountain was magnificent. There was a group of archaelogists in the process of excavating the site. It looked like very boring and hot work as they dug a small area bit by bit using what appeared to be a small hand trowel. More time seemed to be spent in discussion than in digging.
After this, we drove down the other side of the mountain and stopped at Castel Gandolfo which I had also visited previously with Loris. Lake Albano was a beautiful, brilliant blue as always and we sat on the piazza watching a wedding and enjoying a beer before heading home. I don’t think Rory knew what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to drive but it certainly added a lot of variety (and stress!) to their visit and I enjoyed revisiting the places I like. There is a Portuguese word ‘saudade’ which more or less means feeling the presence of absence. I felt the absence of Loris though he certainly wouldn’t have walked 60 km in four days!